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Shocker: Rangers scratch Sean Avery for tonight’s game

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I never really understood why the New York Rangers picked up Sean Avery last season. I understand the thought process and the reasons behind it; Avery could be had for half of his salary and the team and fans needed him at the time.

But in the time where it was known that the Rangers eventually would nab Avery and the time they actually did, there was a coaching change and John Tortorella took over behind the bench for New York. How would such a no-nonsense coach put up with a player like Avery? Perhaps he would be the one to finally harness his ability and make him into more than just an annoying player who sometimes scores.

That hasn’t been the case. In fact, Tortorella has done everything he can this season to suppress Avery and his shenanigans. Well, everything except scratch him.

Until now. Sean Avery will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers, another team that is in desperation mode as they both fight for a playoff spot.

“We’ve asked him for a while now for more engagement and honestly, we just haven’t seen it,” Tortorella said following the morning skate in preparation for tonight’s match here against the Thrashers. "[That’s in] all facets.”

“Whenever I get my next opportunity that’s what I’m going to have to do,” said Avery, who when then asked what exactly he meant, responded, “I’m going to keep that to myself.”

I’m of two sides on this one. If the Rangers and John Tortorella never intended to embrace Avery and everything he brings to the table then they never should have picked him up. It’s been a battle every since and neither side has seemed to be able to agree on exactly what approach they want Avery to take.

However, Avery is a wildly inconsistent player and that is maddening to a coach. He has all the ability to be a dangerous player each night, yet is driven by emotion and self-motivation. Perhaps the coach is doing everything he can to bring out that emotion each and every game and he’s just not seeing as much as he would like. Whatever the case, it’s an ugly situation that is playing itself out just as the Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot.

Personally, I love seeing Avery’s hand held to the fire like this. I know there are some who think he’s being misused by the Rangers’ coach, but for a player who is as self-serving as he is there has to be a reality check at some point. It seems being released by the Stars last season helped a bit in bringing him down to earth, but obviously the coach doesn’t feel it’s been far enough.

Should make for an interested finish to the season, at least.